Teens giggle while children look around in confusion as adults blush. How did such a natural act become so taboo? As a child, everything I learned about sex was from the school bus, my friends, or experimentation. My family never spoke of it. This proves true for many people, but why have we become so conservative towards the act of reproduction?
To investigate this, we must go back to the beginning. Starting with the earliest humans, sex was purely animalistic. Our instincts simply kicked in and we mated. Simply. No shame.
As we came into the time of Egypt and Rome we still see sex as something which fills everyday life without shame. Pompeii was full of it. Murals and other scenes of pornography filled the city. In Egypt equally, scenes filled tombs and temples alike. The Egyptians were certainly not shy about sex and in fact, pharohs kept harems of women, including their mothers, sisters, and daughters within them. (Disclaimer, totally not supporting incest, just using as an example ) Cleopatra was notoriously open with her sexuality first with Caesar then Antony. She married two of her brothers but it is unknown whether she had relations with them. Back to Rome… the emperors were notorious for their sexual escapades. They were open with them and men and women alike held lovers of all stations.
This also brings me to the subject of homosexuality and how it is also considered taboo in today’s society. We have lightened up a bit on it but it is not fully accepted as it was during the days of the Romans or Egyptians. Personally, I think it should be!
Moving forward, we get to England and it’s reign as master of the world. England shunned sex and kept it hush hush. Although it was common for men to have mistresses, women lost their power and if accused of adultery could be out to death. We see Henry VIII who put Anne Boleyn to death for rumors and Catherine Howard for the same crime with solid evidence.
Long before Henry, came Edward II who had big shoes to fill. He stands between his father and son, two great king’s of England, yet Edward was a weakling. He was easily overpowered by his scorned queen, Isabella. Edward was a homosexual and although fathered four children with his wife, eventually took another male lover, causing her to begin an affair with Roger Mortimer and cause and uprising. Eventually, Edward was killed and Mortimer was defeated and killed. Isabella was imprisoned by her son, Edward III for the remainder of her life.
Onto Mughal India where sex was… complicated….
Kama Sutra… the book of love. A common book for those who studied the art or even married couples. Much was expected from a woman in the royal bedchamber and if you could catch the emperor then you would rise. Emperor Jahangir fell in love with Nur Jahan and made her the most powerful woman in India. Jahangir’s son would have to deal with her well into his reign but like his father also fell deeply for a woman. Shan Jahan fell in love with Mumtaz Mahal who was of relation to Nur Jahan. He was unable to marry her at first and took another wife but soon had his way. He quickly shunned his other wives after giving them a child each and focused all his attention on Mumtaz. Detailed court documents of their sexual passion are available and well exposed. It resulted in her giving birth to 14 children and unfortunately for Mumtaz, she died birthing their fourteenth. The Taj Mahal symbolizes their love where they have both been interred for eternity.
Don’t even get me started on China…
As one of the largest empires, Chinese rulers would have concubines… a ton of them. Girls were selected from noble families because hey, only the best for the Emporer. These girls would sit in the halls of women and wait to be chosen. many would grow old and never get a night with their king. Once the emperor died, the women would have their heads shaved and be set to a nunnery equivalent. Some concubines like Ci-Xi and Wu Zhao rose up to become empress because they birthed the next emperor.
England after the restoration exploded with sex. Charles II had many acknowledged mistresses and bastards. Although he had no legitimate children, he did not shun his wife Catherine. The king was described as lusty and highly sexual. Also during this time, many views of the woman changed. Women took lovers and were allowed on the stage, baring their legs as actresses. Nell Gwynn never married, yet she had lovers including Charles. Many families threw their daughters to the king with hopes of advancement and many would be educated on just how to please the king within the bedchamber.
Moving forward to George III. It was said he had a mistress, Hannah Lightfoot and then fell in love with Sarah Lennox but once George Married Charlotte, we see a more conservative king. After his marriage, he proves to be a very devoted husband and father. His son, on the other hand, George IV disposed his wife and took many mistresses, even dubbing one his true wife. During this period, women were expected to be virgins and not take lovers.
Victorian England explored the reign of courtesans and free love such as in France. Victoria’s son Edward was a great lover of women and did not shy around it.
After Edward, we get more into the 20th century where marriage stayed between a man and woman and sex began to be hushed.
When the 60s and 70s came the idea of free love came back and for a brief period, some people brought sex back into the spotlight. In the 80s we get pornography wisely distributed. Music videos with scantly clothed women. As we approach our century we see porn taking over everywhere. It’s highly distributed and has taken the place of many stable relationships. I was in a relationship with a porn addict once and trust me when I say this is one thing where it can ruin relationships.
Continuing on. Sex will probably never be as open and free as it was once yet we continue to live on. Babies are being constructed within Petrie dishes while parents pick out eye color rather than just do the act itself and get what you’re given. Society and technology have definitely changed the way we view sex and our sexuality.
I have gotten mixed reviews about the sex within The King’s Secret Daughter. Anna sleeps with a man before marriage and develops a relationship. This could be normal for the time period but to know the whole story you’d have to read the book. She is at one point shunned by her second husband and finds comfort with another man and the man is punished.
Within She’s Only Seventeen, we explore human sexuality at its finest. Kat loses her virginity at the tender age of fifteen and after that, she uses sex as a way to express herself and on some occasions, show or mask deep emotions. Kat commits adultery on more than one occasion but since the story takes places from 1980-2001, it is fealty with differently.
In conclusion, sexuality is suppressed in many ways in this society. I have vowed that my daughter will not be uneducated and I trust myself to remain calm when she comes to me with questions. I do not want her to see it as something to be ashamed of. I most certainly am not and I suppose my openness is one of the reasons for my happy marriage.
This is definitely one of those subjects I could go on forever about so I will stop here. As always, I am welcome to discussions.